Actors From The London Stage Perform Shakespeare’s Beloved Comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream

October 8, 2015
Actors From The London Stage Perform Shakespeare’s Beloved Comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“The course of true love never did run smooth.” Truth endures—which may be why this line, written by William Shakespeare in the late 16th century, is one of many often quoted from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Wellesley community and guests will enjoy them all when the beloved Shakespeare tale is presented October 8–10.

A rollercoaster of emotions, jokes, and love triangles, A Midsummer Night’s Dream enthralls Shakespeare fanatics and casual admirers alike. Its multiple layers of action, extensive literary allusions, and even the creation of a meta-play illustrate Shakespeare’s storytelling mastery and creative genius.

However, the play will not be the only “favorite” in the Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall Auditorium. The show is staged by Actors From The London Stage (AFTLS), one of the oldest established touring companies in the world, and the producer of one of Wellesley’s most anticipated annual arts events. 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the company’s formation and its 10th anniversary appearance on campus.

AFTLS’s classically trained actors hail from such prestigious companies as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The company, based at the University of Notre Dame, is as committed to education as it is to performance. An AFTLS residency includes workshops designed to get students from all disciplines engaged with Shakespeare’s text, and to get students out of their chairs to turn “acting” into “actions” with meaning.

The company’s own performance style reflects its focus on the work. AFTLS prepares without the aid of a director and performs with a minimalist set and a cast of only five actors, who use basic props to indicate transitions between the multiple roles they each play. The result is a frenzy of activity that engages audiences and reveals a troupe that is “transcendentally talented and skilled in every aspect of Shakespearean acting,” said Nora Hussey, director of Wellesley’s Theatre Studies program.

“What they bring to us is the most truthful and inventive performances imaginable,” Hussey added. “Every August when I mourn the loss of summer I console myself with [the thought], ‘Ah, but the actors from London are coming!’”

Three 7pm performances are scheduled October 8-10 in Alumnae Hall, and all are free and open to the public with no reservations necessary. This program is generously supported by the Ruth Nagel Jones Endowed Fund for Theatre Studies, the Rosalind Sperber Frye ’25 and Constance Frye Martinson ’53 Fund, the English Department, Upstage Theatre Student Organization, Shakespeare Society, the Wilson Fund, and the Harman Cain Foundation.

photo: Peter Ringenberg